Monday, January 25, 2010

The Domino Car

Last Saturday was the Cub Scout Pinewood Derby. I think this was my sixth one as a parent. Jono wanted to make a domino car this year. We cut it down using the band saw in the machine shop (we wore our safety glasses). Then he sanded it and spray painted it black. He used a paint pen to draw the dots. To help the paint dry he took a deep breath and blew on it. I caught him in mid-breath in this picture!

He got a medal that said "Judges Favorite" on the back. He is very proud of it and has been wearing it around the house for days. He slept with it the first night!

The weight limit is 5 ounces so we weighed it at home with a food scale. Apparently the scale isn't very accurate because at the official weigh-in we were very light. So in a burst of improvisation, I glued two house keys to the sides to bring it up nearer the weight limit. Jono thought it looked cool. What can I say?

He raced four races. On three of them he got second place, and on one he got first place. He didn't get to move on to the finals, however. The video below is of the race in which he got first place. As he was reading the time for each car, he slowly realizes he won. He was so excited! It makes me happy to watch him celebrate! You can hear him say "I got first! I got first!".

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Jono's Gymnastical Party

This year we broke our family tradition that all birthday cakes are made by me. Jono wanted to help me, and it didn't seem right to say "no, you can't help me decorate your own birthday cake" despite my desire to be in control of the creative process. Perhaps out of a desire for global unity, he wanted a cake with the Olympic rings and to have a party at the local gymnastics school. (Never mind that it's the Winter Olympics coming up next month! There aren't a lot of bobsled courses in Central Texas.)

Here's what the cake looked like in the end. It was lemon cake with some kind of yummy icing I can't remember now. Can you hear the Olympics theme song playing? Daaa daaa da da da da da...

He seemed pleased when eveyone sang "Happy Birthday".

The kids got to play on the trampolines, the giant "cheese pit", and this cool ring on a rope swing thing. The video shows why this was a favorite!

Chinese Checkers was an appreciated gift. We had to pay a foriegn exchange student to translate the instructions from Mandarin. Of course, it was still difficult because the Chinese government censored most of the rules.

I just like this picture because of his smile. :)

Mystery Reader

My son Jono's second grade class has a "mystery reader" program: parents or other significant folks in the kid's lives show up once a week to read the class a story, but nobody knows who it will be until they show up at the class (except, of course, the teacher and the mystery reader themselves). My wife, The M, was supposed to be the reader the other day, but just for fun I took her place at the last minute. I read a story about a snowman in the woods and the reactions of the wild animals to this stranger in their midst. I read with different voices for the birds, squirrels, and deer and showed the pictures to everyone as I read from page to page. In the story, the doe took the snowman's carrot nose to eat it, so I held my nose and spoke with a nasal voice when I delivered the snowman's ad-libbed response. Everyone laughed. I suppose it wasn't very different than the engineering classes I teach at Baylor. Except there was a little less math and the tuition was cheaper. Read on.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

(Red) Laces

The M got me a pair of (Red) laces for my shoes as a Christmas present. They are produced by Nike as part of the (Red) campaign to combat AIDS in Africa. All the profits go towards the cause, and I look pretty cool.

It's one small step in my master plan to become Bono.

You can buy your own here.

Maggie the Dog

This is Maggie the dog. She joined our family back in September. She needs a haircut, but she's sweet. She follows The M around all day and sleeps with us at night. She's pretty cute, I know, but her house training has some room for improvement.